Sometimes, when a person dies and the cause of death is not known, a surgical procedure called an Autopsy or Post-mortem examination is carried out on the corpse by a specialist doctor known as a Coroner to determine the exact cause or means by which it happened. An autopsy can also be done to solve a crime; other times, it can be done for research purposes...
The Coroner carefully opens up the body and thoroughly studies every inch of tissue. Sometimes it has to be done under a microscope and samples from the body may even be sent to the laboratory for further testing…all in a bid to find the answer!
We’ve discovered many shocking truths about people during our autopsy sessions. The dead do talk!
During my first witnessed post-mortem exam session as a medical student, my teacher/instructor opened up the chest of a corpse and lifted out the lungs. They didn’t look like healthy lungs to me, as they were covered with dark patches of varying shades all over.
“Oh, it’s quite normal for lungs to have these patches, especially in people who live in industrialized regions. You know we all inhale lots of smoke and other chemicals daily”, he said, grinning.
I didn’t find that very comforting...
"...Quite normal..."? How on earth should this be normal?
Immediately, I realized at least one reason why humans don’t live as long as they used to…
Anthracosis refers to that black pigment discoloration seen in lung tissue at autopsy. It used to be commonly seen in smokers or coal-mine workers, but these days, we see it in almost every lung on our examination tables and this is considered normal.
About Air Pollution
Almost an entire half of the world’s total air pollution is caused by fumes from vehicles: bikes, cars, buses and trucks. And we haven’t counted electricity generators and other such devices…
Car and generator fumes and indeed the smoke on highways contain:
Particulate matter, (made of soot and heavy metals like lead) which alone is responsible for over 30,000 premature deaths yearly;
Carbon monoxide, a colourless and odourless gas, but also a deadly one. A group of youths held a church meeting late one night with their small generator in the same hall, humming away. They were all found dead early next morning! That’s Carbon monoxide for you!
Other harmful component gases include hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.
What Is The World Coming To?
Every year, up to a staggering 7million people die prematurely worldwide from air pollution alone. Nothing less than 1.4million of them are helpless children! We can’t begin to fathom how many of these die in countries like Nigeria, where little regard is given to air pollution, and where smoking buses, cars and trucks seem to be the order of the day!
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already established that almost 2million children have to die every year because of our so-called, but often mindless technological advancement.
Children’s problems due to pollution sometimes start from while they are still in their mothers’ wombs, while the Moms are busy inhaling the jolly old highway smoke. Some of these babies as a result, will suffer premature birth. Shortly after this, the children will be subjected to an increased risk of Pneumonia and long standing problems like asthma. The show doesn’t end there: some of them will end up years later with heart disease, stroke and cancer…
Protection From Air Pollution
Stay as far away as possible behind buses and trucks that burn diesel fuel;
Avoid being in an enclosed area with a running vehicle;
Leave your car at home when you can;
Don’t exercise along busy streets and highways. You’d end up taking in more than usual amounts of these pollutants. Not all smoke is visible to the human eye.
Service your car regularly. Listen to your mechanic. Don’t wait till your car becomes certified as a weapon of mass destruction!
As a responsible member of society, you could send a polite letter to your community leader, asking what their current actions are, against local air pollution.
Let’s actively protect our environment, folks. If we don’t, we can be sure that one day this problem will come back to bite us in the posterior!
Do have yourselves a smoke-free week!